JCC gets $3 million JCEF grant for new San Francisco facility

"Ecstatic" was how Nate Levine described himself on hearing that the Jewish Community Endowment Fund had granted $3 million to the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco, the largest one-time allocation to any area agency.

With that grant, the JCC has now reached $62.25 million out of its goal of $70 million for its new facility.

"Without the magnanimity of the Jewish Community Endowment Fund, our vision for serving the community could not be realized," said Levine, the JCC's executive director.

He added that the grant was symbolic of the longstanding relationship between the S.F.-based Jewish Community Federation and the JCC.

"They've been a partner and sounding board for us throughout the conceptualization phase," Levine said, adding that the JCEF had come to the JCC's rescue with a bridge loan when the JCC was about to close its doors a few years back.

"This wasn't the first time they heard of [our plans.] It really was an organic process of rebuilding the center as well as planning for the future."

Phyllis Cook, JCEF executive director, said there was a long deliberation over the amount of the grant.

But the virtues of the new JCC were clear to everyone involved. "They have gone through the process very carefully all along the way," she said. The JCC is "a major gateway in San Francisco for developing the Jewish community and serving it."

Cook pointed out the grant is unusual, as federations don't normally support capital campaigns with their endowment funds. JCEF money is mostly used for emergencies and for seed projects, but in the case of the JCC, said Cook, the funding was warranted.

"It's important to assist and give our imprimatur to these agencies," she said.

Together with Menorah Park, the adjacent facility for low-income seniors, the JCC "represents a very large part of our community, and it's dreadfully in need of being rehabilitated," Cook added.

With $7.75 million left to raise for the new center, Levine said, "we're knee deep in the detailed design of the building, and actively planning our relocation to our Presidio location, and we're working on our fund-raising. We're busy folks here."

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."